Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) is a United States national park in Northeast Ohio.
The park reclaims the rural landscape along the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park covers an area of 132 square kilometers (51 square miles) or 13,200 hectares (32,572 acres).
History runs deep in the valley, with over 12,000 years of human occupation. From the unwritten stories of prehistoric peoples to the environmental disasters and comebacks of the 20th century, humans have left an impact on the valley. Here along the Cuyahoga River, humans have used, shaped, and been shaped by the landscape. Culture and nature interplay here, with each having its impact on the other.
During the 1960s and 1970s, urban expansion threatened rural areas in northeastern Ohio, especially between Cleveland and Akron. Facing pressure from local citizens and conservation groups to preserve the natural environment, the United States Congress and President Gerald Ford established the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area in 1974.
In 2000, the federal government converted the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area into the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Thirty-five kilometers (22 miles) of the Cuyahoga River wind and weave through the Cuyahoga Valley, forming the backbone of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The river, with its associated riparian habitat, is just one element of the park’s habitat mosaic. From deciduous mixed-mesophytic forests to wetland habitats, from currently cultivated agricultural lands to older field habitats in various stages of succession, the park’s habitats provide opportunities for plants and animals to flourish.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a destination for millions of visitors each year. With many different facilities and attractions in the park, there is something to interest everyone.
Over 200 kilometers (125 miles) of hiking trails are available for your hiking pleasure in CVNP. These trails range from nearly level to challenging, and pass through various habitats including woodlands, wetlands, and old fields. Some trails require you to cross streams with stepping stones or log bridges, while others, including the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, are nearly level and are accessible to all visitors. A portion of Ohio’s Buckeye Trail also passes through the park.
Brandywine Falls is among the most popular attractions in the park. Carved by Brandywine Creek, the 20-meter (65-foot) falls demonstrates classic geological features of waterfalls. A layer of hard rock caps the waterfall, protecting softer layers of rock below. In this case, the top layer is Berea Sandstone. The softer layers include Bedford and Cleveland shales, soft rocks formed from mud found on the sea floor that covered this area 350-400 million years ago. Shale is thinly chunked, giving water a bridal veil appearance as it cascades down the falls.
The Ritchie Ledges are witnesses to change – from creation out of Sharon Conglomerate millions of years ago, to landscapes wrecked by humans and to preservation today. The Ledges drew many visitors in the 19th century who came here to recreate and play. One of those, wealthy industrialist Hayward Kendall, purchased the area and set it aside to become the Virginia Kendall Park.
The Beaver Marsh was created by beavers that moved in along remnants of the Ohio & Erie Canal. The area had been a farm and later a junkyard, which was cleaned up by a community effort. Today the area offers visitors the chance to explore a wetland first-hand and up close by a boardwalk thorugh the marsh.
The park also offers an array of preserved and restored displays of 19th and early 20th century sustainable farming and pastoral or rural living, while catering to contemporary interests with art exhibits and outdoor concerts.
Speculating on the rising fortunes of the Ohio & Erie Canal, the Kelley brothers built the Boston Store around 1836. Built as a store (literally to “store” objects, today’s warehouse), the building’s
second floor was a warren of 13 rooms built to be boarding rooms for workers in the area. The building went on to become a post office and a private residence before becoming today’s visitor center.
The building known as the Canal Exploration Center has stood at Lock 38 for over 150 years. It has been a tavern, a store, a residence, a boardinghouse, and even housed a blacksmith shop at one time! It most recently was a park visitor center. Moses Gleeson purchased the structure about 1837, hoping to capitalize on the Ohio & Erie Canal traffic. By 1852 he expanded the building to resemble its current facade to serve the increasing traffic on the canal.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is a Class III railroad operating diesel-electric and steam-powered excursion trips through Peninsula, Ohio in the Cuyahoga Valley, primarily through the scenic Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Over 900 plant species are found in the park, as well as 194 species of birds, 91 aquatic macroinvertebrates, 43 fish, 32 mammals, 22 amphibians, and 20 species of reptiles.
Animals found in the park include raccoons, muskrats, coyotes, skunks, red foxes, beavers, peregrine falcons, river otters, bald eagles, opossums, three species of moles, white-tailed deer, Canada geese, gray foxes, minks, great blue herons, and seven species of bats.
The Cuyahoga River and numerous ponds are open to fishing. CVNP’s philosophy is to maintain the predator-prey relationship rather than to stock fish for recreational fishing. Catch-and-release fishing is encouraged to maintain the fish populations needed for continued sport fishing. The park has over 65 speices of fish that lives in its waters.
Five primitive campsites are available to Towpath Trail and backcountry trail users from Memorial Day weekend through October 31.
Cuyahoga means Crooked River in Mohawk, which is part of the Iroquoian language family.